A brief history of the celebrity baby bump Advertisement

A brief history of the celebrity baby bump

From Grace Kelly to Kareena Kapoor Khan

By ELLE team  February 17th, 2017

Pregnancies and celebrities are an explosive combination. The announcement of a high-profile baby on the way invites the kind of intense scrutiny usually associated with presidential elections and sex scandals. Some A-list pregnancies — like when Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco tried to hide her growing bump with her favourite Hermès bag, now officially rechristened the ‘Kelly’ — have been immortalised as pop cultural milestones.

So how has the baby bump transformed from highly protected secret (circa Princess Grace in the ’50s) to international conversation starter à la Beyoncé and Kareena Kapoor in 2017? We trace its evolution.  

The Hollywood queen who went on to marry an actual prince, Grace Kelly is to be credited for Robert Dumas officially rechristening one of his iconic Hermès designs, the Kelly. In the 1950s, when a pregnancy was still a matter to be hidden from the paparazzi, Princess Grace used her favourite designer handbag to hide the baby bump in public, instantly elevating it to 'IT' bag status.

Nine months into a pregnancy and most women are told to lie back with their feet propped up, being waited on hand and foot. Not M.I.A. The hip-hop star of Sri Lankan origin decided to rock the Grammys with a nine-month baby bump dressed up in polka dots in 2008. Photographic evidence tells us that Kanye and Jay-Z were also on stage... not that anyone remembers.

If you've heard Queen B singing a cappella, you know the woman is legit. So when Beyonce announced a baby on the way at the VMAs in 2011, she could not have expected a flurry of reports discussing her "fake pregnancy". Someone with an active imagination and too much time on their hands watched the pop star's appearance on an Australian TV showand pointed out how the star's stomach appeared to deflate as she sat down. Crazy is real, people. 

Posing in the nude — while not a novel idea — was still pretty bold in the '80s. But a heavily pregnant movie star posing in the nude for the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991? Now that was previously unchartered territory. Annie Leibovitz's groundbreaking shot still holds up as one of the most iconic magazine covers of all time, and its star, Demi Moore, kicked off a whole new trend of announcing a pregnancy.

Nobody managed to make pregnancy look more fun than Kareena Kapoor, who powered through brunches, photoshoots, exotic travels and public appearances, even closing Anita Dongre's Lakme Fashion Week Grand Finale just a month after giving birth to first born Taimur Ali Khan. 

As a social media star, Lisa Haydon knew how to break the news of her first pregnancy. The bikini-clad model released a photo of her nascent baby bump on Instagram captioned "Humble Beginnings".

Remember the hit show from the 1950's "I Love Lucy"? While the show was a landmark in American televison, Lucille Ball, the star and producer, decided to incorporate her pregnancy into the plotline of the show, something that had never been done or heard of before, and challenged all cultural norms.

Only Beyonce can pull off something as self-indulgent as a goddess-themed pregnancy shoot without seeming self-indulgent. 

Given that we've watched every minute of Kim Kardashian's life over the past 10 years, it was natural to assume that her first pregnancy would not be anything other than a TV spectacle. Kardashian was determined to prove that pregnancy would not dampen her sex appeal, appearing in body-hugging dresses all through 2013, with baby bump proudly on display. 

More fashion designers than ever are waking up to the idea of inclusive beauty. Case in point: Carol Gracias celebrating her pregnancy on the ramp as showstopper for Gaurang Shah at the Lakme Fashion Week 2016 Summer/Resort edition.